Pressure cookers are designed to make life easier and deliver hot meals quickly. However, they do require proper operation and some simple maintenance to remain a safe and productive member of your kitchen.
The first thing in pressure cooker safety is the addition of an appropriate amount of water to aid in the cooking process, create the steam that cooks your meal, and result in the pressure that gives the machine its name.
Several things can happen when a pressure cooker is allowed to run out of water. The range of results varies from automatically shutting down to a volcanic eruption of hot food and flying projectiles in your kitchen. The latter is the worst-case scenario. And while it is not the norm, it does happen frequently enough and can result in some pretty serious injuries.
Can a Pressure Cooker Be Used Without Water?
It is important to never run a pressure cooker without water. It cannot cook your food properly without water, and the pressure will build to such an extent that the lid, pressure valve, plugs, and hot food could be thrown all over the kitchen. This can seriously harm you, your kids, and your pets, not to mention property damage that comes from flying projectiles.
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Should a Pressure Cooker Hiss?
Mom’s old pressure cooker hissed and rattled enough to start its own band. The newer models have computer chips and features that regulate pressure to eliminate the unnerving sounds that old pressure cookers made.
A small amount of hissing is a normal sound that some models of modern pressure cookers can make from time to time. Electric cookers make very little noise and can hiss a bit in the process of releasing pressure to keep the cooking process safe.
If the hissing is more pronounced, you may have an improper seal or a gasket that is bad. Turn down the heat to safely reduce the pressure, and discontinue using the pot until you determine where the problem lies.
Different Possibilities of a Pressure Cooker Running Out of Water
While it is relatively infrequent, pressure cooker explosions have happened often enough to make people wary of them. This was a more typical occurrence with older, stovetop models that your mother or grandmother may have used. Today’s pressure cookers come with numerous safety features, but that doesn’t mean they can always be trusted.
Running out of water in the pressure cooker can result in a number of things happening. If the cooker has a safety mechanism that is in proper working order, it may simply turn itself off. You may get a burn message on the display screen, or you might just wind up with a big batch of burnt beans.
Some of the things that can happen when your pressure cooker runs out of water include:
- A burn message
- Automatic shutoff
- The pressure valve or plug can melt
- Burnt food
- Lid is physically lifted off or explosion
Newer electric models with safety features are designed specifically to prevent kitchen catastrophes and injuries, however, defects in the design or manufacturing process can create dangerous consequences that result in a trip to the hospital.
To avoid this scenario, it’s important to follow the manufacturer instructions, never leave the pot unattended, and keep enough water in the unit to minimize pressure cooker accidents.
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Can My Pressure Cooker Explode?
The simple answer is yes. Pressure cookers can explode. When too much pressure is built up or isn’t releasing at a safe rate, the lid can blow off. It isn’t an explosion in the scientific sense, but it certainly sounds and looks like one. When this amount of pressure and steam escape a confined space all at once, the consequences can be serious.
Make sure your safety valves are in functioning order, check your seals for proper fit, and always make sure you have enough water in the pot.
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Safety Tips for Using a Pressure Cooker
When used properly, pressure cookers can save you time and money while creating delicious, hot meals for your family. Here are some safety tips and tricks for cooking meals safely with your pressure cooker:
- Check the equipment – The rubber gasket is critical. Make sure it is intact, free from rips and tears, and isn’t crusted with food. The proper sealing of the pressure cooker depends on a good gasket.
- Fill only part way – Food like beans and rice tend to expand during cooking, and can clog the pressure release mechanisms or create too much pressure because there isn’t enough room for the steam. Don’t overload the cooker with too much food or water.
- Keep children and critters away – Pets and kids should be banned from the area when using a pressure cooker. Teach kids never to touch the cooker, and let them know it is extremely hot even after it is done cooking. Though accidents are rare, they do happen. It’s best to protect kids and pets from harm by keeping them at a distance from your cooker.
- Don’t open the pot before pressure is released – Lifting the lid before the pressure has been released can cause serious burns. It’s tempting to speed the process along on a busy evening, but don’t risk it. It’s not worth a visit to the hospital.
- Don’t buy used or bargain cookers – Pressure cookers are recalled for manufacturing problems regularly and you may be buying someone else’s problem. Used pressure cookers may also be damaged or worn out which creates hazards. Don’t risk your safety to save a few dollars. Buy new.
- Read the instructions – Aside from giving you proper operating directions, the manual might introduce you to some cool features you would simply gloss over if you had not read the booklet. It’s important to read any warnings carefully and follow their instructions because every model is different.
Pressure Cooker Explosion Injury Attorney
If you have experienced injuries from a pressure cooker explosion or a defective pressure cooker, it’s important for you to know that you may have a right to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Pressure cooker recalls and defects do happen. If you need advice about pursuing a product liability case for your injuries and property damage, contact Zanes Law today for a free case evaluation. We can help you understand your legal options with no cost to you.